I’m limping through mornings, Friends.
You know how when married couples are going through a rough patch they sometimes go to a marriage retreat? Removed from their daily lives they can focus on fixing what’s damaged. That’s where I am with mornings right now. Very close to divorce, but knowing that I can’t live my life without them, and thus determined to make things better.
I have never been a morning person. Usually, my husband and kids are better in the AM and I can just groggily follow their lead. Lately, though, with snow days and sick days throwing off our routines, my whole family has fallen off the morning wagon. It’s not working out.
I spent some time reflecting on what’s made our mornings run more smoothly in the past and brainstormed some new things to try. The goal isn’t to try to do them all each day, but to sprinkle them in here and there as needed until we get back on track.
If you too have hit a morning slump, I hope you find something here that is helpful and I would *love* to hear your suggestions for how to get through mornings with more smiles and fewer internal eye rolls.
If it makes sense in your bedrooms, think about letting some sun into your room as it rises. There’s some evidence that it makes waking up easier. In a perfect world, I’d keep the blinds in my bedroom twisted just so in order to let sunlight leak across my Target pillowcase as I twinkle my eyes awake like a suburban Cinderella. In reality, most mornings a little boy makes his way to our bed around 6 am and we strive to blot out every sparkle of light to ensure that he falls back to sleep for a few hours. But your situation is likely different and morning sunlight seems like a nice idea.
A while back, I made an upbeat morning playlist and my kids loved it. For some reason, we got out of the habit of playing it, but I’m going to bring it back into rotation. It’s hard to stay in the fetal position under the covers when a snappy tune is playing. Here is our playlist for inspiration.
Take a Shower
I know a lot of people do this every morning. I can’t even conceive of a world in which I have the presence of mind to take an actual cleansing shower in the morning. I only take real showers at night. Sometimes more than one because I’m basically a human popsicle and that’s the only way I can get warm. If you are normal human being that doesn’t think anything of taking a shower in the morning, then this idea isn’t for you. But for people like me who would never dream of wasting one precious morning minute in the shower when you could be sleeping instead, hear me out. Just drag your lifeless body into the bathroom fifteen minutes earlier than you normally would. Maybe have something to lure you in there…a nice smelling soap, a Snickers bar…do what you gotta do. Once you’re in there, the water will almost definitely revitalize you. Just spend a few minutes basking in its splashy glory, though…you don’t want to lose the time you’ve gained by waking up earlier.
Again, like a morning shower, I realize this is something normal people might do without giving it a thought. Not me. I usually fall out of bed and candy-cane walk to the bathroom to put my contacts in. We just went away for the weekend and in the hotel room I saw our 9 year old sit up in bed, arch his back and tilt his head up and back. I copied him and it felt so good. I didn’t even know bodies could feel like that in the morning! If you are like me and it takes a few minutes (or hours) for your brain and soul to be completely re-assimilated to your body, I highly recommend a thirty second pause to give your body a chance to re-energize before starting your day. If you have more time, a little bit of in-house yoga can be wonderful. On relaxed summer days, my husband and kids join me and it feels like a great way to start the days together. I really like Adriene Mishler’s YouTube channel for her chill vibe and clear instructions.
Electric Toothbrushes with App
One of our sons was really rushing the toothbrushing process. With lots of other stuff to do, it was a bit of a hassle to closely monitor the brushing situation each day. We asked our dentist if he had any recommendations for a good toothbrush for kids and he told us that the best toothbrush is the one that kids use consistently. (Makes sense.) The dentist said to look into electric toothbrushes that come with a corresponding app to “gamify” the experience. I’m not into letting kids play on devices at every turn, but I am all about compromise and surviving life on the Earth plane, so we ordered two of these and it’s made all the difference.The son that didn’t like brushing his teeth gets excited about it now. And the other does a better and more thorough job than he was doing before. (We paid $29 per toothbrush using a $10 off coupon and that seems appropriate. I know prices fluctuate on Amazon and if the price is much above that, I’d look elsewhere or at a different toothbrush option.)
Get Ready Kit
Our kids’ bedrooms are upstairs, along with a bathroom where we keep their grooming supplies. For some reason that I don’t fully understand, the boys almost always get dressed in the kitchen. It’s not a big deal, but it did mess with the flow of our mornings. There was either a lot of back and forth between the upstairs bathroom and the kitchen, or there were toothbrushes left on the kitchen table. Instead of fighting the magnetic draw of our 1970s kitchen, we’ve made Get Ready Kits for each of the kids to keep in the downstairs half-bath. We bought a few tiny shower totes from the dollar store, travel hair brushes, mini-spray bottles for water (to tame bed-head), and an extra toothpaste. Now the entire get-ready process takes place around the kitchen, which seems strange but works for us. Wherever you or your children gravitate in the morning, see if you can make that the intentional center of your morning routine instead of fighting the flow.
Quick Breakfast Ideas
Everyone has their morning meal go-tos, so I thought I’d share ours. I’ve heard tell of people making muffins ahead of time and then popping them out of the freezer and into the oven to fill the house with scents of cinnamon and spice. I have definitely never done that. I have gotten frozen croissants and proofed them in the oven overnight, but 3 out of 4 times, I forget that they’re in there until lunchtime so I now know that hidden breakfast foods aren’t for me. Here’s what we usually turn to when starting our days:
- Greek yogurt with a drizzle of honey or maple syrup and some fruit on the side
- Oatmeal with maple syrup and cinnamon and a sprinkle of brown sugar on top or a little bit of jam swirled through.
- This smoothie – It’s from the book Simple Green Smoothies which we use all the time. Our kids’ favorite is the Beginner’s Luck Green Smoothie (I promise you can’t taste the spinach at all). Our favorite combination for flavor and texture is to use a fresh, ripe banana and frozen mangos and pineapple. We usually pour out the kids’ servings then add a piece of fresh ginger or turmeric to the blender for the adults.
- Breakfast Rounds – On the days when the boys are really dragging, we can throw this together and they perk right up. I don’t follow the linked recipe exactly, I just melt a bit of butter with some brown sugar and cinnamon, and then drizzle it over a toasted English muffin that has been spread with peanut butter and topped with sliced apple. It works every time.
I know some people have Family Command Centers and that sounds very much like a space that my family would leave granola bar wrappers. What we do have is a big calendar on the fridge that honestly makes things so much easier. As soon as the school’s lunch menu comes out, I write down the lunch choices for the month. We also add appointments and special school events like “pajama day” as well as extracurriculars. These are all things we keep track of using the calendars on our phones, but it’s nice to have it written down in one place that catches our eye throughout the day. I was surprised to see how quickly and often the kids started checking the calendar to see their lunch choices and if anything special was on the agenda. Plus, it reduces the last minute scramble for things like a toy to bring in for stuffed animal day.
I would love to hear how you are making your mornings work. Especially as we approach the last chunk of the school year, I’m going to need all of the help I can get.